Mitchell guides South Side past Roslyn
Gerald Mitchell has an answer for everything.
On two separate occasions late in the fourth quarter, Roslyn got a little to close for comfort and Mitchell answered with a three that helped South Side hold on for a 62-59 win Saturday in Conference A-I. When asked about showing no hesitation to shoot big shots at crucial stages in the game, Mitchell once again provided a simple answer.
"I knew it was going in," he said. "I felt it."
What was once a 14-point South Side third-quarter lead evaporated to two after Harris Silverstein (11 points) hit an off-balance three on a broken play and, on the ensuing possession, drained an open three to make it 57-55 with just under two minutes remaining.
Despite looking unusually vulnerable, the favored Cyclones calmly moved the ball around the perimeter until Darren Nickelson found Mitchell open for a corner three that increased the lead to five.
Mark Gjonlekaj, who finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, hit two free throws on each of Roslyn's next two possessions to cut the lead to one with 49.1 seconds left. Mitchell, who came off the bench to score seven of his nine points in the fourth quarter, responded with a free throw of his own to make it a two-point game with 14.1 seconds to go.
Roslyn had two opportunities to tie the game on in-bounds plays that created shots down low but were unable to convert. Down by three with no timeouts and three seconds remaining, a full-court in-bounds pass was intercepted by South Side's Ryan Spadaford to seal the win.
"We didn't execute," South Side coach Jerry D'Angelo said of the blown lead. "We had moments where we played outside of ourselves. We played more as individuals than as a team . . . But we got big shots by Gerald Mitchell, we had some nice defensive stances and we beared down on those two out-of-bounds plays."
Roslyn initially made it a one possession game after Malik Forte opened the fourth quarter with a putback followed by a three-pointer. But Mitchell hit the first of his two fourth quarter treys to bring the lead back to five at 53-47 with 4:10 remaining.
It was the third consecutive heartbreaker for Roslyn (2-4), which has now lost its last three games by one possession margins.
Spadaford scored nine of his 14 points in the first half to help South Side take a 34-22 lead into the break. Nickelson finished with 12 points and eight assists as the Cyclones improved to 6-0.
"We're coming out greedy because last season we lost in the first round and it was a really big upset and everyone was surprised," Spadaford said. "We just want revenge, we want to win the county."